Newbery morning always feels like Christmas morning to me. Gleeful congrats to the many winners! I love that the most prestigious book awards for children's literature (and, indeed, any literature) are awarded by librarians. Longtime squeetusers know my tenderness for librarians and libraries, and so might well understand how thrilling it was for me to receive the following email (posted with the author's permission). I often feel so quiet and isolated here in my house, taking care of kids and often reaching out only via a computer. It's a humbling reminder to me that what I say and do affects others.
My name is Katelynn, and I have to start by saying that I love your books. I cannot wait to read Midnight in Austenland and the Princess Academy sequel this year. I've been following your blog for some time as well, and I really enjoy reading your thoughts. I am currently a senior English major at the University of Georgia and am in the process of applying to graduate programs in library and information science. My ultimate goal is to work as a youth services librarian, to help teenagers find books that they love as much as I loved (and still love) The Goose Girl when I was fourteen. After I fell in love with the book, I started poking around on your website and was really intrigued by the things I read there. The section that you call "ramblings" played a part in my choice of career path. This is an excerpt from my statement of purpose that was submitted with my graduate applications, which can hopefully explain a little better why I'm writing to thank you.
"The summer after I turned fourteen, I was wandering through the teen section of my public library searching for books to bring along on my family’s upcoming beach vacation. These types of aimless excursions are not always fruitful, but on that particular day I got incredibly lucky: I picked up Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl. The book didn’t even make it to the beach; I completely devoured it on the six-hour car ride. Hungry for more of Hale’s lyrical language and her complex, vivid world, I researched the author and discovered that a companion novel would be released the following August. The day I bought Enna Burning I shut myself in my room and read until my eyes were dry, and still I wanted more. As I began researching Hale’s books and exploring her website, I discovered a lengthy discussion she had written on a topic that deeply interested me. Why do so many teenagers dread and then avoid the books they have been assigned in their English classes? I never understood why I loved to read so much outside of class but had to fight tooth and nail to simply get through my school-assigned reading. Hale suggests in her articles that kids do not always relate to the characters and stories with which they are presented in school, and she believes that the solution to the teenage reading apathy is simple: libraries. After considering this problem and Hale’s presented solution, I have become convinced that librarianship is the path for me. I can think of no better career than one that gives me the ability to help children and teens find books that pull them in, enchant them, and light a fire inside them. I want the ability to help others discover the world of literature that exists beyond the classroom and its research papers and analysis essays. There is no doubt that those things are valuable, but so many children miss out on the wealth of knowledge, experience, and insight that can be obtained through the literature they can find in their local libraries. I want to pursue a career that allows me to connect middle- and high-school aged teens with words and stories that give them the feeling of endless possibilities I had when reading Hale’s works."
I know that you must receive thousands of emails every day and many of them might look something like this, but I felt that I needed to share this little bit of my life with you since you had such a great deal to do with it. I'm so grateful for your books, your language, and the fact that you put this important discussion on your website. I hope that I can become one of the awesome librarians that you talk so much about.
Again, thank you. I am a huge lover of literature, and it makes my heart smile that it was your beautiful book that led me to choose the right path for my life.